Posted by Iain Brunt on 09/10/2020
For the Art's Sake, Let’s Take Antiques Online.
Nothing beats holding a vintage antique in your hands. Or does it?
Even though many Antique Markets were set to stay on schedule for October,
new restrictions imposed by government have now put that schedule in doubt.
Global uncertainty drove the world to start making its purchases online, and the
antiques marketplace is no different.
At Antiques.co.uk, we have understood the needs of the “web surfer” for over
twenty years. We are the UK’s longest-running antiques website, and the sudden
surge in interest for online antiques was no surprise to us.
Access a large market of antiques despite lockdowns
National uncertainty continues to keep people at home. If a fair is cancelled, will there be a refund for one’s ticket? And, if the fair goes along as scheduled, is it really worth the risk?
Even though public events must all meet Public Health England’s guidelines for safety, one is always more at risk in a social gathering than at home.
The trend, now, is to buy online, from the comfort of one’s home.
Buying and selling antiques online
Many companies were caught flat-footed when the first lockdown hit. Antique stores, especially, were accustomed to having walk-in traffic, only to be told that, now, they must either conduct their business online or close up shop.
It is an enormous task to set up an online presence as an antique store. It isn’t only a matter of putting up a website and taking a bunch of pictures of products.
Setting up a website, these days, can sometimes feel like starting a new business.
Because the task is formidable.
The matter is exacerbated when one wants to accept payments online. There are laws regulating how this can be done, and a number of security measures that need to be implemented in order to keep online purchases secure.
Those purchases then need to be logged into a central inventory system, invoicing system, and so on.
Really, who has the time (or the funds, in these uncertain times) to do this?
We haven’t even touched on the need for marketing and promoting the website. This can be both costly and time-consuming.
The worst, however, is when one does spend time and/or money on one’s website only to have it flop as a result of the sudden onrush of other dealers who are now also selling online and doing exactly what you’re doing to promote their businesses.
These are difficult times, and the simplest way forward for antique dealers is to team up with a company that already has a successful platform in place to sell products.
Attending an antique fair online
Think of Antiques.co.uk as the next Peterborough Festival of Antiques or the next Ardingly International Antiques and Collectors Fair — but there is no entry fee, no opening and closing times and, best of all, no silly virus to be afraid of! (There is also no rain…)
Antique dealers can sell their products with minimal upfront costs and buyers can be given a wide range of articles to choose from instead of just a small range.
Art: The old belongs with the new — and the art itself is the winner
Sometimes it takes a "jolt" in society to show us how foolish our earlier ways were. Selling antiques online in one large marketplace actually makes more sense than trying to sell them individually in separate stores. Doing it this way is good for sellers, for buyers, and for the art itself.
As antique dealers or collectors, we have a certain passion for the art of it, the quality, the history.
Yes, there is a certain unmatched joy in walking physically into a store and seeing what one can find — perhaps even a small thrill of adventure.
Equally, however, there is also that commensurate sense of loss when one has walked into the sixth or seventh store and not found the item one is looking for.
Often we don’t know what we are looking for when we go browsing, and yet there is a feeling of lack of accomplishment when we come home empty-handed.
It is the Art which loses. (And, really, so do the dealer and buyer.)
Selling antiques online, in one massive marketplace, is really the only logical solution. The procedure is good for the work itself, allowing potential buyers to find the item they are looking for. And it also allows dealers to show all their products without any "hidden in the back" that a potential buyer might miss (especially when they are tired of hunting).
And, so, the new meets the old.
Not only an online antiques market, but also meeting up with friends?
Culturally, we are at a turning point. Although it is unlikely that people will regularly meet up socially in the real world for the foreseeable future, it is easy to see that more and more “gatherings” will, in fact, start happening online.
The sudden surge of video conferencing tools like Zoom during the lockdown has even taken the fustiest of us onto the world-wide web’s-waves to chat with (and look at) our friends.
We envisage, here at Antiques.co.uk, that such a culture will soon rise up in the Antiques Market as well.
Because, yes, it’s not only about the sales. There is indeed a certain pleasure in seeing one’s friends and saying hi to people we haven’t spoken to in a while.
Alas, the times are as they are, and our prediction is that many of those events will start being planned online with possibly even hundreds of attendees — the ubiquitous Zoom call (or some newcomer to the scene). It might even be that physical Antique Fairs and Markets will happen only once in a blue moon, more as a display of curiosa than as a place to buy and sell works.
Predictions of the future are always flimsy at best, but the present is as solid as granite. And the present tells us this:
Buying and selling antiques online, riding on the back of a website that is well-established and respected, is the best way for antique dealers to stay in business; for collectors to find what they are looking for despite the current uncertainty; and for the artworks and antiques themselves to win out in the end.